The True Size Of Africa – An Erroneous Map Misled Us For 500 Years!
We Have Been Misled By an Erroneous Map of the World for 500 Years
These stories doing rounds online since couple of years claim to show that the true size of African Continent is much bigger than what the Maps have been showing us for 500 years. The map shows the outlines of other countries crammed into the outline of the African continent. The claim is a mixture of hoax and facts.
Kai Krause Map
The map in question entitled “The True Size of Africa” was developed in late 2010 by Kai Krause, a computer-graphics guru, and caused quite a stir then. The map suggested that people are often not aware of how large the African continent really is – by supposedly showing an accurate look at Africa relative to the combination of some major countries like China, United States, Eastern Europe, India and few others. However, in the Kai Krause world map, the countries in the centre appear smaller than they are, and accuracy is compromised for neatness and ‘straight lines’.
The Kai Krause map seems to have used the shapes of the countries from the well known, standard Mercator projection, but has scaled up the outline of Africa, without changing its shape, to show the appropriate area. However, there’s a real problem in projection of spherical earth onto a flat surface, and so compromises have to be made depending on the purpose of the map. That is, a sphere cannot be represented on a flat plane without distortion. You can read more about it here. The same thing applies to the standard Mercator projection map of world.
This most well known cylindrical map projection was originally designed by the Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569 — as a nautical chart. The Mercator projection of world map distorts the relative sizes of countries, as the scale increases from the Equator to the poles, where it becomes infinite. That is, the distortion gets progressively worse as you get closer to the poles.
Another projection that made into news in 1973 is the Gall-Peters projection, when Arno Peters aimed to create an accurate map with respect to the size of developing nations. It was similar to orthographic projection of clergyman James Gall described in 1855.
The Gall-Peters projection, known as the equal-area cylindric or cylindrical equal-area projection, was most stimulating with controversial images of the world, like conveyed in the video of “The West Wing” TV show below.
There are many ways to map the spherical Earth on flat surface, and depending on the type of projection and purpose of the map, it has its own limitations and distortions. The true size of Africa like we have been seeing in the standard Mercator projection is certainly larger in real. In total, Africa is more than 30 million sq km in area. To reduce the distortion of land masses as they near the poles, the National Geographic Society has used the Winkel Tripel projection map since 1988.
Hoax or Fact:
Mixture of hoax and facts.